Three poems on different aspects; Nurses, camouflage and the sea, lastly, flying. There are numerous poems on Edith Cavell, I have found one on Mary Inglis but there surely must be. The one below on ‘Red Cross Nurses’ must be a coverall.
Thomas Masson: The Red Cross Nurses
Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: Surprise Written on a troopship from New York to England in 1917, shortly before he was accepted for the army despite his poor eyesight (third attempt).
‘On the wings of the Morning’. By Jeffrey Day
A sudden roar, a mighty rushing sound,
A jolt or two, a smoothly sliding rise,
A tumbled blur of disappearing ground,
And then all sense of motion slowly dies.
Quiet and calm, the earth slips past below,
As underneath a bridge still waters flow.
My turning wing inclines towards the ground;
The ground itself glides up with graceful swing
And at the plane’s far tip twirls slowly round,
Then drops from sight again beneath the wing
To slip away serenely as before,
A cubist-patterned carpet on the floor.
Hills gently sink and valleys gently fill.
The flattened files grow ludicrously small;
Slowly they pass beneath and slower still
Until they hardly seem to move at all.
Then suddenly they disappear from sight,
Hidden by fleeting wisp of faded white.
The wing-tips, faint and dripping, dimly show,
Blurred by the wreaths of mist that intervene.
Weird, half-seen shadows flicker to and fro
Across the pallid fog-bank’s blinding screen.
At last the choking mists release their hold,
And all the world is silver, blue and gold.
The air is clear, more clear than sparkling wine;
Compared with this wine is a turgid brew.
The far horizon makes a clean-cut line
Between the silver and depthless blue.
Out of the snow-White level reared on high
Glittering hills surge up to meet the sky.
Outside the wind-screen’s shelter gales may race;
But in the seat a cool and gentle breeze
Blows steadily upon my grateful face,
As I sit motionless and at my ease,
Contented just to loiter in the sun
And gaze around me till the day is done.
And so I sit, half-sleeping, half awake,
Dreaming a happy dream of golden days,
Until at last, with a reluctant shake
I rouse myself, and with a lingering gaze
At all the splendour of the shining plain
Make ready to come down to earth again.
The engine stops: a pleasant silence reigns –
Silence, not broken, but intensified
By the soft, sleepy wires’ insistent strains,
That rise and fall, as with a sweeping glide
I slither down the well-oiled sides of space,
Towards a lower, less enchanted place.
The clouds draw nearer, changing as they come,
Now, like a flash, fog grips me by the throat.
Down goes the nose: at once the wires, low hum
Begins to rise in volume and in note,
Till, as I hurtle from the choking cloud
It swells into a scream, high-pitched and loud.
The scattered hues and shades of green and brown
Fashion themselves into the land I know,
Turning and twisting, as I spiral down
Towards the landing ground; till, skimming low,
I glide with slackening speed across the ground,
And come to rest with a slightly grating sound.
Jeffrey Day seems to have written little else but this poem seems to have been picked up. Incidentally, ‘Sagittarius Rising‘ by Cecil Lewis is considered a classic book on flying and combat in the First World War. He also had quite a remarkable life after the war.
tag: War Poets